t byfield on 14 Mar 2001 23:17:16 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Armor, Amour

crandall@blast.org (Wed 03/14/01 at 12:29 PM -0500):

[one paragraph omitted]

> The rising figure of a defense shield - a prophylactic for the entire
> country - marks a shift in the architecture of combat. 

this is nice-sounding theory, but it's not really accurate.

as is well known, the national anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defense 
system bush is pushing for is a zombie process that is now a few dec-
ades old: surely the names 'strategic defense initiative' and 'star
wars' are familiar to you from the early 80s. specifically:

     President Reagan's speech of March 23, 1983, renewed a 
     national debate that had been intense since the late 
     1960s but much subdued since 1972 [i.e., when the ABM
     treaty resulting from the SALT I talks was signed].
     Wouldn't the United States be more secure attempting 
     to defend its national territory against ballistic mis-
     siles while the Soviet Union did the same? Or would it
     be more secure attempting to keep such defenses largely
     banned by agreement with the Soviet Union?

that's the opening of the 'Executive Summary' of the US Office of 
Technology Assessment's September 1985 _Strategic Defenses: Bal-
listic Missile Technologies, Anti-Satellite Weapons, Countermeas-
ures, and Arms Control_. i quote it and cite the title in detail 
to give a vague indication of just how many interrelated issues 
and perspective were involved in what you describe monolithically 
as 'the architecture of combat.'

>                                                        As the national
> discourse changes its orientation from that of targeting to that of being
> targeted, 

but in the paragraph i omitted above, you cited _Dr. Strangelove_
(now is nearly *forty* years old), whose entire logic assumes that 
this reductive target/be-targeted framework was long since obsole-
scent. how does the 'perspective' of the movie's Doomsday Device 
fit into your theory? 

>           new visual formats arise alongside the antiseptic videogame
> images of the recent past:  formats in which our status as viewers is
> reversed and our positions imperiled.  Another effect of the
> perspectivization that is warfare.  With America's obsession for safety
> reaching epidemic levels - fueled by the market's need to provoke interest
> in new technologies and the military's need to justify increased defense
> spending - a near-religious fervor for "protection" could well arise, as
> missiles appear to be potentially falling down on us from the skies.

US military budgets have been going up for the last 65 years.

you could, of course, cite something like the very excellent video
game Asteroids as a cynical/compulsive proto-manifestation of what
would soon (well, 15+ years later) become a national asteroid ob-
session--prompted, in part, by a series of half-witted attempts by 
various USG officials (for example, dan quayle) to justify SDI as 
an anti-asteroid protection. the 'method' of such an argument seems
much like the approach underpinning this essay, but it would turn 
the theory you've presented upside-down.

[~two paragraphs omitted]


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